From NFL Cheerleader to MD to Houston’s Rock-Star Dermatologist and Laser Guru — the Remarkable Journey of Dr. DiAnne Davis
H-Town's Own Westlake Dermatology is Led by the Doctor Behind Sunblock KidsBY Shelby Hodge // 06.29.20
A former New Orleans Saints cheerleader, Dr. DiAnne Davis heads cosmetic dermatology at Westlake Dermatology. (Courtesy photo)
Westlake Dermatology in Houston is anchored in this Michael Hsu building at 2132 Bissonnet. (Photo by Chase Daniel)
Body contouring is just one of many services offered at Westlake Dermatology (Westlake Dermatology photo)
Westlake Dermatology offers the full range of dermatological and cosmetic surgery services.
Editor’s Note: Since publication of this article Dr. Quynh-Giao Sartor, a magna cum laude graduate of Brown University who earned her Medical Doctorate and completed her internal medicine internship and dermatology residency at Baylor College of Medicine, has assumed the position of board certified dermatologist at Westlake. Dr. Davis has departed the clinic.
How does one catapult from being a cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints to becoming a rock-star dermatologist and pioneer in laser use? It’s a rare journey that only an exceptionally energetic, brilliant, and determined young woman could master. Meet Dr. DiAnne S. Davis.
Before Westlake Dermatology opened in the swank Michael Hsu-designed building in the 2132 Bissonnet development last fall, Davis was tapped to head the first Houston outpost of the trendy skincare and cosmetic surgery brand that has 15 locations across Texas. No longer do Houston devotees have to make the trek to Austin.
An Oklahoma native, Davis had long been involved in cheer and dance, so while planning to earn a master’s of cell and molecular biology at Tulane University, she moved to New Orleans. But between graduating summa cum laude with a degree in biology from Tuskegee University in Alabama and enrolling in Tulane, on a lark she tried out for cheerleading with the Saints. She made the team.
After four years on the gridiron sidelines and several sets of pompoms later (she still has one pair), Davis was urged not so gently by her physician father that it was time to get on with her career. Following her stint at Tulane, the wunderkind went on to earn her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health sciences in Washington, D.C, for which she received the Walter F. Rosen Award for Outstanding Student in Dermatology.
Davis’ education did not stop there. Even before completing an ASDA-accredited fellowship in lasers, she authored journal articles and textbook chapters; was influential in coordinating the first Skin of Color Symposium; and co-founded Sunblock Kids, which emphasizes the importance of sun protection from an early age.
Considering her educational background, one might expect a towering, forceful persona striding through the Westlake offices. She’s actually a petite powerhouse with gridiron energy who zooms through discussions of cosmetic dermatology with impressive precision. While Westlake offers the full spectrum of services and surgeries, we talked about Davis’ additional specialty.
It’s all about lasers
“With lasers today, it’s all about the physics and certain different parameters of physics that go into making the different lasers,” Davis tells PaperCity. “It’s about how long the laser is in contact with the skin, the pulse duration, in the nano and pico second time frames. There is very short contact with the skin but very effective and powerful … You can target exactly what it is without disturbing the surrounding tissue.”
She’s most impressed with the advancement in lasers — their use in the removal of tattoos, erasure of brown spots, targeting of acne scars, and more.
“My interest peaked with lasers and particularly with skin color because we have more sensitive skin, and there are not as many lasers that we can use on our skin,” Davis says. “But now we have companies that are aware of that, and they are starting to give us parameters that we can use safely on all skin types … overall rejuvenation of the skin but using it across very diverse backgrounds.
“By the year 2050, over 50 percent of the U.S. population is going to be of a very diverse skin color and genetic makeup. So I think we have to make sure that we are thinking of and utilizing technology that is taking that into account.”
In addition to the full spectrum of dermatological services, Davis adds her expertise including micro-coring, which she says offers the most bang for the buck with the least amount of downtime. Some call it a modified facelift that is done under local anesthesia via an energy-free needling tool that mechanically drills out minuscule columns of skin — each less than half a millimeter in diameter — in a fractional pattern across the mid and lower face. According to the system’s manufacturer, the results are “that the gaps left behind then come together and heal up, triggering the remodeling phase of collagen for a firming effect.”
Equally innovative, says Davis, is the treatment for severe acne scars.
“When creams and oral medications don’t work, we use laser technology for stubborn acne … We use gold nanoparticle material, painting it on the face because it sinks down into the sebaceous gland, and we’re using that gold pigment as the laser target so we can actually laser the sebaceous glands under the skin,” she says.
“We use it with a mix of a chemical peel to treat active acne in addition to acne scars.”